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How much horn blowing is necessary?

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How much horn blowing is necessary?
Posted by charlie hebdo on Friday, September 15, 2023 8:00 AM

Should FRA regs be revised in keeping bwith the 21st century?

If crossings are properly gated, only in emergency should horn be needed. 

Communication between trains.  This seems like a remnant of the 29th century before radios and cell phones. Unnecessary.

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Posted by ns145 on Friday, September 15, 2023 9:59 AM

charlie hebdo

Should FRA regs be revised in keeping bwith the 21st century?

If crossings are properly gated, only in emergency should horn be needed. 

Communication between trains.  This seems like a remnant of the 29th century before radios and cell phones. Unnecessary.

 

29th century?  You mean after the railroads were rebuilt after the 3rd nuclear holocaust? Big Smile

The FRA has had regs for creating quiet zones for some time now.  Plenty of communities have done so.  Given how many people NS has killed here in Springfield, IL over the years, I don't think flashers and 2 gates are a sufficient level of protection for eliminating horn usage on mainline trackage.

As to "unnecessary", some horn signals have been retained in the operating rules because there are situations where a backup form of communication is needed.  Radios and cell phones can and do fail, especially out in the middle of nowhere. Here's a link to a recent copy of UP's General Code of Operating Rules, see section 5.8.2. https://www.up.com/ert/gcor.pdf  There's not many horn signals left and signals 2 thru 6 are normally sent via other means.

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Posted by timz on Friday, September 15, 2023 10:38 AM

charlie hebdo
If crossings are properly gated ...

Everyone agrees no horn is needed if the xing is properly gated. Only argument is how much gating is needed, to be considered "proper".

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Posted by tree68 on Friday, September 15, 2023 1:03 PM

timz
 
charlie hebdo
If crossings are properly gated ...

A very small percentage of the crossings in the U.S. are in "no horn" zones with the required hardware (4 quadrant gates, medians, etc). 

Most crossings in urban/suburban areas have lights and gates - although no small percentage have only lights/bells. 

Many rural/low traffic crossings have only crossbucks.

If you want to dig in, here's the FRA's crossing database: https://railroads.dot.gov/safety-data/crossing-and-inventory-data/crossing-inventory-lookup

For a cross section of motorist behavior at crossings, look up Virtual Railfans "Grab Bags" on YouTube.  You'll some boneheaded actions in addition to the other points of interest (rare cars, etc) in the videos.

In this day of cell phones and climate controlled cars with great sound systems, we need all the warning we can muster.  The public isn't paying attention.

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Posted by diningcar on Friday, September 15, 2023 2:04 PM

The horn is used to alert trespassers, RR employees, and animals which may be in the ROW. The horn is needed for branch line operation within many rural areas which see a train infrequently. 

 

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Posted by rdamon on Friday, September 15, 2023 3:24 PM

ns145

 I don't think flashers and 2 gates are a sufficient level of protection for eliminating horn usage on mainline trackage.

 

The crossing at Kearney, NE that is streamed on VR does not have quad gates and is a quiet zone. The road does have a raised median.

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Posted by traisessive1 on Friday, September 15, 2023 3:42 PM

Look at most other countries in the world. Blowing the horn for crossings like we do in North America is pretty unique to us. 

Here in Canada, Transport Canada allows single track mainlines with ONLY flashing lights to qualify for a horn exemption under certain conditions. No gates. 

After 17 years in the cab of a locomotive it has become very obvious that the horn is not needed at crossings with proper AWDs. The horn doesn't prevent accidents at these crossings.  I love making noise at crossings but it really is not needed as the crossing is doing everything. 

10000 feet and no dynamics? Today is going to be a good day ... 

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Posted by BaltACD on Friday, September 15, 2023 4:08 PM

traisessive1

Look at most other countries in the world. Blowing the horn for crossings like we do in North America is pretty unique to us. 

Here in Canada, Transport Canada allows single track mainlines with ONLY flashing lights to qualify for a horn exemption under certain conditions. No gates. 

US population 331 MILLION, Canada 38 Million

Land area US 3.2 Million square miles, Canada 3.8 million square miles

Speaks for itself - fewer people more area.

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Posted by jeffhergert on Friday, September 15, 2023 4:12 PM

rdamon

 

 
ns145

 I don't think flashers and 2 gates are a sufficient level of protection for eliminating horn usage on mainline trackage.

 

 

 

The crossing at Kearney, NE that is streamed on VR does not have quad gates and is a quiet zone. The road does have a raised median.

 

Normally you only find the 4 quadrant gates if there is no median. And I've seen drivers run the gates by going through the wrong lanes.

Story Street in Boone Iowa has neither 4 quad gates or a median, but was included in the quiet zone.

Even in quiet zones, there are times the horn is required. On two or more tracks approaching the end of a train that's blocking the view of someone at a crossing for example. 

Radio, while most commonly used, can be used instead of hand signals. Not the other way around.

Where required at xings, the horn is supposed to be sounded 15 to 20 seconds before the crossing is occupied. PTC will sound the horn if the engineer does not at required xings.

Jeff 

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Posted by tree68 on Friday, September 15, 2023 6:24 PM

traisessive1
I love making noise at crossings but it really is not needed as the crossing is doing everything. 

Engineers will often be polite in certain situations - instead of "tying down the whistle cord" they keep the "toots" short.  This is especially true in built-up areas.  Watching Deshler, this is clearly the case.  One engineer (since retired) gained the moniker "Engineer Short Toot" for his nightly trips over the five crossings in Deshler at 11:30 (more or less) at night.

We have a number of trail crossings and otherwise little used road crossings.  A few are known issues and get more horn than others.

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Posted by SD70Dude on Friday, September 15, 2023 7:19 PM

BaltACD
traisessive1

Look at most other countries in the world. Blowing the horn for crossings like we do in North America is pretty unique to us. 

Here in Canada, Transport Canada allows single track mainlines with ONLY flashing lights to qualify for a horn exemption under certain conditions. No gates. 

US population 331 MILLION, Canada 38 Million

Land area US 3.2 Million square miles, Canada 3.8 million square miles

Speaks for itself - fewer people more area.

The vast majority of Canada's land area is uninhabited wilderness, think of regions like the Arctic tundra and the Canadian Shield.  Our settled areas are not unlike yours in terms of population density and civilian intelligence when it comes to being safe at railway crossings, and of course that's where most of the rail lines are.

To illustrate my point, the vast, vast majority of Canadians (over 90%) live within 200 miles (320 Km, that's Kanadian miles) of our southern U.S. border, we'll leave the BC/Yukon-Alaska border out of this calculation since it truly does run through the wilderness. 

North of the 60th parallel we have over 1.3 million square miles of land (more than 1/3 or our total area) but fewer than 131,000 people.  This region contains less than 200 miles of railroad but we still managed to have two different gauges up there.

Greetings from Alberta

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Posted by tree68 on Friday, September 15, 2023 10:27 PM

If you travel between Montreal and Windsor/Sarnia, you'd see little difference from the U.S.  Urban/suburban areas, farmland, etc.

Go north a ways and it's a different story.

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Posted by BigJim on Saturday, September 16, 2023 2:49 PM

Horns are a lot like locks...they keep the "honest" people out! My horn blowing never stopped anyone from crossing in front of me that was hellbent to cross the tracks!

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Posted by CSSHEGEWISCH on Sunday, September 17, 2023 9:55 AM

BigJim

Horns are a lot like locks...they keep the "honest" people out! My horn blowing never stopped anyone from crossing in front of me that was hellbent to cross the tracks!

 
You may not persuade many of those characters to wait but it will pay off when someone hears the horn and decides to wait and stay alive.
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Posted by tree68 on Sunday, September 17, 2023 11:37 AM

CSSHEGEWISCH
You may not persuade many of those characters to wait but it will pay off when someone hears the horn and decides to wait and stay alive.

One of the first things looked at with a grade crossing incident is whether the horn was sounded (as appropriate) and if it met sound level criteria.

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Posted by northeaster on Sunday, September 17, 2023 1:55 PM

Back in the 1960's, my collage law professor was a retired lawyer who had been an attorney for a large New England railroad. One of their problems was farmers who would not keep up their cow fences and cows were struck by trains: sometimes it seemed that only inferior or old cows were being hit. One farmer lost a small herd of such cows and claimed that the train did not sound its horn for each animal on the tracks and was therefore entitled to compensation. My lawyer prof won the case with the court determining that the engineer did not have to count the number of animals on the tracks and sound the horn for each one. A rare case of common sense prevailing.

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Posted by charlie hebdo on Sunday, September 17, 2023 4:05 PM

 I wasn't referring only to crossings, though based on practices elsewhere, the necessity of horn blowing there should be revisited by FRA. 

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Posted by BaltACD on Sunday, September 17, 2023 4:20 PM

northeaster
Back in the 1960's, my collage law professor was a retired lawyer who had been an attorney for a large New England railroad. One of their problems was farmers who would not keep up their cow fences and cows were struck by trains: sometimes it seemed that only inferior or old cows were being hit. One farmer lost a small herd of such cows and claimed that the train did not sound its horn for each animal on the tracks and was therefore entitled to compensation. My lawyer prof won the case with the court determining that the engineer did not have to count the number of animals on the tracks and sound the horn for each one. A rare case of common sense prevailing.

I had numerous conversations with company Claim Agents over the years I was employed.  From those conversations, I would venture railroads have never killed old or inferior livestock.  Every animal has been at least a County Champion for its class if not a State Champion.  Railroad only run over the best.

Whenever livestock was reported on the right of way, the Roadmaster who was responsible for that territory would be notified and they would contact the farmer.  Part of the Roadmaster's job was to maintain a relationship with the land owners who lands was adjacent to company property - for the benefit of both parties.

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Posted by mudchicken on Tuesday, September 19, 2023 10:29 AM

charlie hebdo

 I wasn't referring only to crossings, though based on practices elsewhere, the necessity of horn blowing there should be revisited by FRA. 

Nope - Not buying your narrow view of reality. Really hope you meet a trackman or carman that is aware of your comment. There are plenty of others that rely on those sounds to know what's going on around them. It's more than just communication between train crews. (always has been) Not trading safety to appease somebody's personal preference.

As to the QZ issue - Those can be revoked (and at least two have been  and several others have been at least temporarilly suspended). The local finer citizens either get stupid in QZ's with multiple fatal results or local government fails to maintain the mitigation measures put in place to create the QZ's. FRA has asked it's field inspectors to keep an eye out for scofflaws who just don't get it. The continued whining by local politicians about QZ's related costs tells me there are plenty out there that really don't get the responsibilities involved.

 

Mudchicken Nothing is worth taking the risk of losing a life over. Come home tonight in the same condition that you left home this morning in. Safety begins with ME.... cinscocom-west
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Posted by tree68 on Tuesday, September 19, 2023 1:32 PM

charlie hebdo

 I wasn't referring only to crossings, though based on practices elsewhere, the necessity of horn blowing there should be revisited by FRA. 

We have spots along our line where visual range is limited due to curves and cuts.  Not just for us, but for trespassers, who may be hiking along the rails.

Those spots get a couple of toots on a regular basis.

Trains can be amazingly quiet, even the forest.

LarryWhistling
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Posted by traisessive1 on Tuesday, September 19, 2023 7:34 PM

mudchicken

Nope - Not buying your narrow view of reality. Really hope you meet a trackman or carman that is aware of your comment. There are plenty of others that rely on those sounds to know what's going on around them. 

 

In Canada, the horn is NOT required to be sounded for workers near the tracks unless it is specifically asked for by a foreman in charge of a work zone. 

It's not needed.

10000 feet and no dynamics? Today is going to be a good day ... 

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Posted by traisessive1 on Tuesday, September 19, 2023 7:38 PM

BaltACD

US population 331 MILLION, Canada 38 Million

Land area US 3.2 Million square miles, Canada 3.8 million square miles

Speaks for itself - fewer people more area.

 

Completely irrelevant. A crossing is a crossing. 

If Europe can run 100s of trains a day through level crossings without the horn, I think Canada and the U.S. can run 20-50 a day through our crossings without the horn.

 

10000 feet and no dynamics? Today is going to be a good day ... 

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Posted by tree68 on Tuesday, September 19, 2023 7:49 PM

traisessive1
If Europe can run 100s of trains a day through level crossings without the horn, I think Canada and the U.S. can run 20-50 a day through our crossings without the horn.  

What are their accident rates?

I would opine that not blowing the horn would be a major culture shift for the North American motorist.  Especially at rural crossings lacking gates and lights.

Ever been in a city when there's a power outage?  Every stoplighted intersection is supposed to be treated like a four way stop, right?  Does that happen?

Besides, aside from annoying a few people, what harm does blowing the horn do?  

And many countries outside of North America do sound the horn at crossings.  Not the North American two longs, a short, and a long, but they do sound the horn.

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Posted by CMStPnP on Tuesday, September 19, 2023 8:12 PM

timz
Everyone agrees no horn is needed if the xing is properly gated. Only argument is how much gating is needed, to be considered "proper".

Proper is a steel pole that descends across the entire road on both sides that would decapitate everyone in the car if they drove under it.    Of course to make everyone happy they should put the collapsable tines under the gate that extend when it is descended to prevent cars and motorcycles from skidding under the gate as well.

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Posted by CMStPnP on Tuesday, September 19, 2023 8:14 PM

BaltACD
I had numerous conversations with company Claim Agents over the years I was employed.  From those conversations, I would venture railroads have never killed old or inferior livestock.  Every animal has been at least a County Champion for its class if not a State Champion.  Railroad only run over the best.

There might be some Bull in those kill stats. DevilBig Smile

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Posted by tree68 on Tuesday, September 19, 2023 8:25 PM

BaltACD
I had numerous conversations with company Claim Agents over the years I was employed.  From those conversations, I would venture railroads have never killed old or inferior livestock.  Every animal has been at least a County Champion for its class if not a State Champion.  Railroad only run over the best.

I remember a cartoon in Mad Magazine wherein a farmer tied antlers to a cow, then collected from the hunters, who thought they saw a deer in the distance and shot it...  Of course, the antlers were nowhere in sight by the time the hunters tracked down their kill...

LarryWhistling
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Posted by tree68 on Tuesday, September 19, 2023 8:29 PM

CMStPnP
Proper is a steel pole that descends across the entire road on both sides that would decapitate everyone in the car if they drove under it.    Of course to make everyone happy they should put the collapsable tines under the gate that extend when it is descended to prevent cars and motorcycles from skidding under the gate as well.

As I recall, someone experimented with bollards that rose up out of the road.  Impossible to drive through, but I think they had issues with dirt and salt in the mechanism.

I've seen videos from elsewhere showing a gate that slid completely across the road.  It was an urban setting - lots of scooters and pedestrians, too.

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Posted by jeffhergert on Tuesday, September 19, 2023 9:05 PM

traisessive1

 

 
mudchicken

Nope - Not buying your narrow view of reality. Really hope you meet a trackman or carman that is aware of your comment. There are plenty of others that rely on those sounds to know what's going on around them. 

 

 

 

In Canada, the horn is NOT required to be sounded for workers near the tracks unless it is specifically asked for by a foreman in charge of a work zone. 

It's not needed.

 

By work zone, I take that to mean work protected by track bulletin/form b/etc., some kind of notice issued to trains. A lot of work by MOW/signal is done without such notice. Many tasks are done with lookout protection only.

People working under those conditions would have no advance warning. Even in protected zones, some activities come to a halt some don't. People are still milling about, some near machinery, that even though just idling, are still loud.

Jeff

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Posted by Gramp on Tuesday, September 19, 2023 10:02 PM

I've found it interesting in our town which has a quiet zone line and a non-quiet zone line how trains on the quiet line move through without you realizing it. 

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Posted by traisessive1 on Thursday, September 21, 2023 8:34 AM

jeffhergert

 

By work zone, I take that to mean work protected by track bulletin/form b/etc., some kind of notice issued to trains. A lot of work by MOW/signal is done without such notice. Many tasks are done with lookout protection only.

People working under those conditions would have no advance warning. Even in protected zones, some activities come to a halt some don't. People are still milling about, some near machinery, that even though just idling, are still loud.

Jeff

 

 

Correct. 

The CROR has no requirement to sound the horn for trackside workers. A foreman in charge of a TOP or Rule 42 may instruct you to inside of his limits but for any other time there are trackside workers there is no requirement. 

10000 feet and no dynamics? Today is going to be a good day ... 

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